The San Diego Padres also had a busy 2015 offseason that turned into a disaster.
The San Diego Padres have become the talk of Major League Baseball this offseason with their moves to acquire Blake Snell, Ha-Seong Kim, and Yu Darvish so far, and they might not be done. Many prognosticators now have the Padres as being right up their with their NL West rival Los Angeles Dodgers as being among World Series favorites heading into 2021.
As we know, winning the offseason is one thing, and winning the real season is quite another. Prior to the 2015 campaign, A.J. Preller and the Padres had a busy offseason, his first one with the team, as he tried to immediately turn around a team that went 77-85 in 2014. Among the moves that the team made that offseason:
- Signing Brandon Morrow and Josh Johnson as free agents
- Trading for Matt Kemp and Tim Federowicz from the Dodgers; the package going to the Dodgers included Yasmani Grandal
- Trading for Derek Norris from the Oakland Athletics
- Trading for Wil Myers from the Tampa Bay Rays
- Trading for Justin Upton from the Atlanta Braves; the package going to Atlanta included Max Fried
- Trading for Will Middlebrooks
- Signing James Shields to a four-year, $75 million contract
- Making another trade with the Atlanta Braves, bringing in Craig Kimbrel and Melvin Upton Jr.
The result of all this? The Padres actually lost more games in 2015, going 74-88. Shortly thereafter, the rebuild was on; Justin Upton left as a free agent, while the team quickly traded Kimbrel to the Boston Red Sox and Shields to the Chicago White Sox (the latter move netting them future star Fernando Tatis Jr.) The Padres would go on to have a losing record every year until 2020, when they went 37-23 and made the playoffs.
Why this offseason is different
Preller’s sudden bold strike to turn the Padres into contenders right away didn’t work, and it led to a long, painful rebuild that only recently did we start to see fruits from. Some might be tempted to compare what happened six years ago to what is happening now, but these are completely different situations.
After 2014, the Padres were in need of a makeover, particularly on offense, and no one offseason splurge was going to fix that. Even though some were already putting the Padres in the World Series prior to 2015, we see examples every year of teams that were awful the previous year trying to fix everything in one offseason and it doesn’t work out. That happened to the Padres in 2015.
The 2020 Padres were not a team that was in need of a makeover. Though they made several moves at the trade deadline to improve the team, they already had a solid core in place that was in need of some tweaks. The injury to Mike Clevinger was just an unfortunate situation that created the need for another starting pitcher (though the Padres went out and got two).
San Diego is also relying heavily on their farm system to put the finishing touches on this team. Though they’ve used their deep farm system to acquire some established major league players, there’s still lots of young talent left on this roster that is ready or close to ready to contribute at the major league level. That’s why this philosophy should work, not only in 2021, but beyond that as well.
The Padres were a good team before making their moves this offseason. They should be an even better team now. While nothing is guaranteed, there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about the 2021 Padres. At the very least, it should turn out better than 2015 did.